Invasive Asian hornet identified in in Britain for first time

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

There has been a confirmed sighting of the Asian hornet in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire

Invasive Asian HornetThe National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire – the first time the hornet has been discovered in the UK.

The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees.

Work to identify, destroy and remove any nests is already underway, which includes:

  • setting up a 3 mile surveillance zone around Tetbury

  • opening a local control center to coordinate the response

  • deploying bee inspectors across the area who will use infrared cameras and traps to locate any nests

  • readying nest disposal experts who will use pesticides to kill the hornets and destroy any nests

Nicola Spence, Defra Deputy Director for Plant and Bee Health, said: “We have been anticipating the arrival of the Asian hornet for some years and have a well- established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.

It is important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognize the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies. That's why we are taking swift and robust action to identify and destroy any nests.

We remain vigilant across the country, working closely with the National Bee Unit and their nationwide network of bee inspectors.”

A local control center will be opened tomorrow near Tetbury and bee inspectors from around England will be closely monitoring a three mile radius around the initial sighting.

They will be supported by nest disposal experts who will use an approved pesticide to destroy any hornets and remove any nests.

The hornet found in Tetbury is currently undergoing DNA testing at the National Bee Unit in North Yorkshire to help establish how it arrived in the UK.

The hornet arrived in France in 2004 and is now common across large areas of Europe. It was discovered for the first time in Jersey and Alderney this summer. It is believed the species will not be able survive in the north of the UK due to colder winters.

Oh dear! It would appear that we have managed to import yet another exotic invasive pest into the country because of our great bio-security. Much like the fatal tree diseases, such as sudden oak death, chestnut blight, ash dieback, and, possibly, the oak processionary moth may also belongs into that category. Unfortunately the above list is not even complete.

When will the authorities in the UK are prepared to take measures of serious bio-security, along the lines of those of Australian, in order to keep as many of those possible pests and diseases out of those islands.

While it is true that some moths and other invasive insects may make it on wind vectors from the European mainland fungal diseases attacking our trees and the likes of the ash borer, find and have found their way onto our shores by imports that were not properly checked and also by absolute stupidity such as bringing in plants from parts of the world where certain diseases are rampant or even have our trees grown there from seeds collected in the UK.

One has to begin to question as to whether it is actually simple stupidity or whether there is more to it than what we see.

© 2016